The Gordon Lett Foundation (Fondazione Gordon Lett) is a family foundation dedicated to the memory of Commendatore Major Gordon Lett, Distinguished Service Order, Medaglia Argento [Italy], Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

The current Chairman of the Foundation is Commendatore Brian Gordon Lett QC, Gordon Lett’s son.

The Foundation was privately set up in 2001 by members of the Lett family to commemorate the courage and self-sacrifice of the Italian partisans and civilians during the Italian War of Liberation between September 1943 and April 1945. Gordon Lett was an escaped prisoner of war who became a partisan leader. He was based in the valley of Rossano, in the mountains of northern Tuscany, and owed his life to the Italians who sheltered and fought with him between October 1943 and March 1945, when he was ordered back through the front line to prepare for the final push against the Germans and Fascists.

The Foundation does not accept donations. It is funded purely by the Lett family.

The Foundation commemorates the fallen by laying wreaths at appropriate monuments in Italy, by helping to establish new monuments, and by organising commemorative services and events. It commemorates the courage of those who survived by researching the files of the Allied Screening Commission, presently held in the US National Archives in College Park, Maryland, and also by research at the UK National Archives, Kew, London.

One result of the Foundation’s work has been the discovery of a Register of Medals awarded, but never presented, to Italians for their courage when assisting the Allied cause. These medals awards were approved by the military commanders in the field, but an embargo was subsequently was placed by the British government in 1948 on the giving of medals to Italian nationals. Thus, with a single exception, it is the Foundation’s belief that no medal from the Register of medals has actually been conferred upon the person who won it. Further detailed research has revealed the stories of each individual medal winner’s courage, as documented in the Allied Screening Commission files.

As a part of its commemorative work, the Foundation has presented copies of the medals to a number of the families of those who won them, together with copies of the file detailing the heroism of the medal winner. - This work is ongoing

medal presentation
Dani Bucchioni [second from left] wearing his King’s Medal in Rossano, May 2001. The flag is that of the International Battalion of partisans, commanded by Gordon Lett
Others in the photograph [L to R]: Avio Braccini [partisan], Dani, Lt Colonel Bob Walker Brown [commander of Operation Galia], Falco Montefiore [partisan]
The Chairman of the Foundation, Brian Gordon Lett, has now presented four medals, three of them to those whom his father had nominated. On 13 May 2001, in the valley of Rossano, he presented Daniele Bucchioni with an original King’s Medal for Courage, for which he had been nominated by the Chairman’s father fifty-six years before. Bucchioni had written to Buckingham Palace to enquire whether he had ever been granted the medal, and had been informed that he had indeed won it. Bearing in mind that Bucchioni was then in his mid-eighties, and that time might be short, the Chairman obtained an original medal, and presented it to Bucchioni, with the blessing of the appropriate authority, when they next met. In due course, in 2005, Bucchioni was awarded an OBE, which he received in a ceremony at the British Embassy in Rome.

At that time, the Foundation was not aware of the existence of the Medal Register in the US National Archives. In October 2014, the Chairman stumbled across it by chance, during a research visit to those archives. Further research led to the discovery of some of the individual files which supported the medals.

Dora Pieruccini
Antonio Deluchi [left], the Chairman [centre] and Giovanni Tognarelli [right] with their King’s Medals at the ceremony in Chiesa di Rossano in 2015.
Two names in the register were well known to the Chairman – those of Tarquinio Deluchi and Luigi Tognarelli. Both had lived in the Rossano valley, both had been recommended for their medals by the Chairman’s father, and their sons were well known to the Chairman. The Foundation therefore acquired two further King’s Medals in 2015, and at a ceremony in Rossano in June 2015, in the presence of the Deputy Mayor of Zeri, Andrea Benelli, the Chairman presented both the medals and the files that supported them to Antonio Deluchi, son of Tarquinio, and Giovanni Tognarelli, eldest son of Luigi.

The Foundation continued to research the Medal Register, returning to the US National Archives in June and November 2016.

Dora Pieruccini
Dora Pieruccini in later life

In October 2016, the Foundation conducted a search for the Pieruccini family of Deccio di Brancoli, Vinchiana, near Lucca, Tuscany. In 1943 and 1944, there had been a network of helpers in the area of Vinchiana di Lucca, Tuscany, which had been sheltering escaped Allied prisoners of war. Dora Pieruccini, a lady aged 29 at the relevant time and blessed with six sisters, was a leading figure amongst the Vinchiana helpers. Dora had been known as the “Mother of Prisoners of War. She had been approved for the grant of a King’s Medal for her outstanding courage. The Chairman discovered that although Dora herself had died in 2001, three of her sisters, who had also helped escapers, were still alive. The Foundation therefore moved quickly, and on 12 December 2016, in a ceremony held in the splendid “Hall of Mirrors” in the commune of Lucca, courtesy of Mayor Professor Tambellini, the Chairman presented a replica King’s Medal and a copy of the Allied Screening Commission file to one of Dora’s surviving sisters, Beatricia Pieruccini. Sadly the other two surviving sisters, Paola and Genni, were not well enough to attend. The ceremony was also attended by Dora Pieruccini’s great great niece, named Dora, who was only a few weeks old. Click here for the Chairman’s speech.

The Foundation is currently searching for any surviving relatives of other medal winners from the Vinchiana network: Guglielmo Giannechini, Alfonso Lazzarini, Maria Poli and Emilio Angeli.

The Foundation’s work is continuing throughout central and northern Italy, in the hope of contacting and informing the surviving families of all medal winners. Notwithstanding the decision of the British Government in 1948 that the medals should not be bestowed on their winners, the Foundation believes that the surviving families have a right to know how highly the courage of their relatives was regarded.

Contact with the Foundation may be made via email to

The Monuments

Ponsano Magra - William Foster and James ShortallThe monument erected to Warrant Sergeant William Foster and Corporal James Shortall [both 2SAS] in 2003 at Ponsano Magra
La Cisa - Patrick Dudgeon and bernard BruntThe monument to Captain Patrick Dudgeon MC and Gunner Bernard Brunt [both 2SAS] erected in 2004 at La Cisa, Tuscany.
Rossano, Zeri - Operation GaliaInauguration of the monument to Operation Galia, and the crew of the Special Force supply plane who died on 30 December 1944. Rossano, Zeri, 2015
Chairman of the Gordon Lett FoundationThe Chairman at the inauguration of the Rossano monument to Operation Galia in 2015.